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Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha Paperback – January 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews Review

In Roddy Doyle's Booker Prize-winning novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, an Irish lad named Paddy rampages through the streets of Barrytown with a pack of like-minded hooligans, playing cowboys and Indians, etching their names in wet concrete, and setting fires. Roddy Doyle has captured the sensations and speech patterns of preadolescents with consummate skill, and managed to do so without resorting to sentimentality. Paddy Clarke and his friends are not bad boys; they're just a little bit restless. They're always taking sides, bullying each other, and secretly wishing they didn't have to. All they want is for something--anything--to happen.

Throughout the novel, Paddy teeters on the nervous verge of adolescence. In one scene, Paddy tries to make his little brother's hot water bottle explode, but gives up after stomping on it just one time: "I jumped on Sinbad's bottle. Nothing happened. I didn't do it again. Sometimes when nothing happened it was really getting ready to happen." Paddy Clarke senses that his world is about to change forever--and not necessarily for the better. When he realizes that his parents' marriage is falling apart, Paddy stays up all night listening, half-believing that his vigil will ward off further fighting. It doesn't work, but it is sweet and sad that he believes it might. Paddy's logic may be fuzzy, but his heart is in the right place. --Jill Marquis

From Publishers Weekly

Doyle's Booker Prize-winning novel, told from the perspective of Irish, working-class 10-year-old Paddy Clarke, was a seven-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 4th edition (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140233903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140233902
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,649 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roddy Doyle is the author of eight novels, a collection of stories, and Rory & Ita, a memoir of his parents. He won the Booker Prize in 1993 for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. He lives and works in Dublin.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on September 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
When his novel "The Commitments" became a smash hit movie, Irish writer Roddy Doyle acquired a vast new American audience for that book and the two others (The Snapper; The Van) in his gritty and hilarious trilogy of Dublin working - or rather workless-class life.

Tragedy lies just the other side of wildest laughter in Doyle's first three novels. Each is characterized by lots of colorful, streetwise dialogue, fearlessly resourceful characters and loads of ironic wit.

This novel, winner of London's prestigious 1993 Booker Prize, is different.

Paddy Clarke is ten in 1968 and the narrative explores what that means in an almost stream-of-consciousness fashion. Paddy and his friends stage a Viking funeral for a dead rat, run the Grand National over the neighbors' hedged gardens, set fires at building sites, rob ladies' magazines (because they were the easiest) from shops, and torment each other, forming fluid alliances and watching for weaknesses. They are funny and frightening and unaware of both.

The early part of the book roams from hair-raising adventure to adventure, incorporating casual cruelties and unheeded dangers with equal aplomb. Family intrudes only as a framework, a background of sustenance and tiresome restraints. Sinbad, Paddy's younger brother, is a tag-along nuisance, tolerated primarily as a victim for experimentation, such as forcing a capsule of lighter fluid between his teeth and lighting it.

Paddy is full of life and contradictions; his mind is never still and, while full of wonder, not introspective. His rich fantasy life is more likely to be cruel than kind. He's as typical as any individual can be.

Then the ever-simmering tensions between his parents intensify.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Michael McCafferty, Webmaster on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I had, at the age of thirty five years, forgotten quite a lot - if not most - of what it meant to be ten years old.
I have no idea how Roddy Doyle managed this incredible book - how he captured the wonder, the pain, the self-importance of being a child - but he did, I'm glad for it.
If you can't remember the wonder, the adventure, the all-engrossing pain of being a child, you should pick up this book.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Given how many people use a shrink to restore childhood memories, the success of this book remains astounding. It is utterly timeless in conveying all we went through at one level or another in those ancient days. Reading this book is an indication of why many of us have quashed those images - the cost of painful recall is often too great to bear. How much did Doyle pay in order to dredge it all up again and present these recollections for our delighted reading? Whether this account is autobiographical is of no matter - what Doyle expresses gives voice to many wishing to be heard. If some would only listen!
Those who discern little plot in this book should reflect on their own lives. Can you trace the steps leading to now from when you were 10 years old? It may seem easy now. Doyle superbly expresses the complexity of a boy's life. Elders view it with simple minds. Paddy must balance life with his family with that of his gang, his teachers, learning about himself against conflicting views of others. Kids don't have it as easy as we like to think. Parents devised the ignorant dictum that 'children should be seen but not heard' with the result that boys like Paddy expend immense amounts of energy forging an identity for themselves.
Reviewers here make much of the Irish city setting of this book. Bosh! Urban, rural, Eire, Canada, Germany - all could find in children's lives a compelling topic. The locale is meaningful in the expressions Doyle uses to impart his ideas. There's merit in contending that only an Irish writer could do this tale full justice. Doyle's tale is a cry from the heart, a characteristic many attribute to a Gaelic inheritance. No matter, Paddy's story is truly universal. Every parent should read it carefully. Every bookshelf should contain a copy.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on August 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Roddy Doyle, whose novel, "The Commitments" was made into the famous hit movie in 1991, is one of those writers whose dialogue and observations put you in the protagonist's mind. In Paddy Clarke, that mind is one of a ten year old working class Irish boy. The winner of the Booker Prize, this little novel is sometimes wildly funny, poignant, and sometimes hard and frustrating at the same time. The author puts us into Paddy's head and we are given a better understanding of the thrill of the harmless pranks, the concern of the need to "fit in" with the bigger boys, the frustrations of trying to understand why your parents no longer get along, and the gradual awareness of both self and others. Many of the reviews of this book repeat the theme of a "childhood lived, not just recalled", and this is very accurate. This is not a book about an adult remembering the days, but an adult who has captured the voice of the child as he is experiencing his life every day. 
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Carl A Olson on February 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Before you read this book, realize what Mr. Doyle is doing here. He writes as a nine-year-old first person narrator. The narrator not only tells his story from a child's vantage point, but proceeds as a child as well. He has a short attention span, he goes off on tangents, he changes his mind without explanation.
Paddy Clarke is a pretty normal kid, which means, of course, that he is quite different from adults in profound ways. It's certainly a challenge to wade through his misperceptions, and his random eruptions, but it is well worth it.
It is also a very funny story. I rarely laugh out loud while reading, but I laughed a number of times in this slender tome.
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